Washington D.C., Feb 26, 2021 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Girls cannot be silent when forced to compete against biological males in athletics, one attorney argued on Friday.
In the case of Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, several female athletes had sued over Connecticut’s policy of allowing biological males—who identify as transgender females—to compete in girls’ sports. On Friday, oral arguments were held on the state’s motion to dismiss the case.
After the arguments, an attorney representing the athletes said that they will not be silenced in their complaint for equal treatment.
One of the girls “was told by coaches that if she was asked by the press how she felt about that, she just needed to say ‘no comment,’” said Roger Brooks, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which represents the girls.
“And so yes, we’re deeply concerned with a world which is essentially sending a memo to girls that says ‘you’ll take it, and you’ll be meek and quiet, and say nothing,’” Brooks said.
ADF is a nonprofit group advocating for the defense of religious liberty.
In 2017, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference began allowing student-athletes to compete in sports based on their gender identity, and not their biological sex.
After the new policy, two biological males identifying as transgender females competed in girls’ track events and won 15 state titles.
Four high school track competitors—Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell, and Ashley Nicoletti—filed a lawsuit against Connecticut in 2019, alleging that they had to unfairly compete against biological males identifying as transgender female.
Soule, currently a track-and-field athlete at a NCAA Division I college, said on Friday that she was simply told she had the chance to “compete” and not a right to “win.”
“But when we’ve asked questions, we’ve been told we’re allowed to compete, but we don’t have the right to win,” she told reporters on Friday at an online news conference after a hearing in the case. “We’ve worked incredibly hard to shave fractions of a second off of our times to win, not to place third and beyond.”
Brooks stated after oral arguments that “women and girls deserve an equal and level playing field in athletics.”
“If the ACLU gets its way, women’s sports will no longer exist. There will be men’s sports, and there will be semi-co-ed sports,” he said. The ACLU has joined the lawsuit in defense of the state’s policy.
Mitchell alleges that her time would have been the best at the 2019 state championship for the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition, but the two male runners—Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller—took first and second place, respectively.
Soule raced “17 times at least” against biological males and lost each time, Brooks said. Mitchell lost to four times to males in state championships, he added.
“I was defeated before stepping on to the track,” Alanna Smith on Friday recounted her experience facing the male runners. “Mentally, we know the outcome before the race even starts.”
“Four times, I ran races fast enough to take home a state championship,” Mitchell said.
“Girls across Connecticut and New England all knew the outcome of our races long before the start, and it was extremely demoralizing,” Soule said.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs and activities.
Brooks argued on Friday that Title IX doesn’t just give girls the “chance to compete” in sports, but to do so on an equal playing field mindful of the biological differences between males and females.
“Title IX promises our daughters athletic opportunities and experiences every bit the equal of what their brothers enjoy, but instead, the CIC and Connecticut are giving girls extra lessons in losing,” he said.
While the Department of Education in 2020 found that the state’s policy violated Title IX, the Biden administration withdrew those findings earlier this week.
President Biden has already signed an executive order stating that people shouldn’t be denied public goods based on their gender identity—and ADF and other groups have warned that the order would force women athletes to compete against biological males identifying as transgender females.
On Thursday, the House passed the Equality Act, a sweeping bill that would create protected classes for sexual orientation and gender identity in federal civil rights law. Critics of the bill, including U.S. bishops, have warned that it would threaten girls’ sports among a number of areas.
The act “certainly threatens equality on the track,” Brooks said, adding that he is “optimistic” the bill won’t pass the Senate. Bills such as the Equality Act “ignore the differences between men and women,” he said.
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